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Into the Odd $7.99
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Into the Odd
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Into the Odd
Publisher: Lost Pages
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/14/2018 06:08:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This roleplaying game/sourcebook clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 46 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience.

All right, I’ve already referenced this little RPG in quite a few of my reviews of rules lite systems, so it’s high time I covered this one!

Now, the game’s chassis is remarkably simple in its presentation, though the game does indeed work best for roleplaying game veterans. The extremely condensed presentation makes explanation and grasping the basics simple, but total novices may need some guidance. While the game is counted among the OSR-game systems, it significantly deviates from the traditional rules chassis.

Into the Odd knows three attributes: Strength, Dexterity and Willpower. You roll 3d6 for each. Then you roll d6. These final d6 are your starting Hit Points.

The other rules are similarly basic: In order to succeed a save, you roll with a d20 equal to or under your attribute. 1 always succeeds, 20 is always a failure. Combat is divided into Turns. The head of the group makes a Dex save to determine who goes first. This is one of the few instances where the rules are aggravating in their brevity. More precision on how initiative works would have been nice. On the PC’s turn, they can move and perform one action – attacks are an action, and here the game really differentiates itself from other games. You see, when you attack, you ALWAYS HIT. Same goes for enemies. This makes combat fast, but also really, really deadly. Damage depends on the weapon you wield, and two factors: Cover or other problems reduce damage to d4, while epic, dangerous stunts, attacks from behind, etc. increase damage to d12 – these damage de/increases are known as “impaired” and “enhanced”, respectively. Armor reduces damage incurred, but not by much. The system is very offense-heavy.

If a character takes damage, they lose that many Hit Points; once they have no Hit Points left, they instead reduce their Strength by the excess amount. Once you take damage to Strength, you also need to make a Strength save or take critical damage. If you take critical damage, you have 1 hour, during which an ally needs to tend to you – barring that, you die. Additionally, you can’t take anymore actions until you’ve completed a short rest, which is defined as a “a few minutes” – no precise amount is given, and a short rest recovers all hit Points lost. Full Rests take a whole week and also restores damage incurred to all ability scores.

Okay, but what if you rolled really badly on the ability scores and hit points? Well, that’s one of the cooler ideas of the game: The background package. You consult a table and look at your highest Ability Score and your Hit Points: If your highest ability score’s a whopping 18 and you managed to roll 6 Hit Points…you’ll start the game with a mace, a pigeon…and disfigured. If your highest ability score is 3-9 and you only have 1 Hit Point, you get a sword, a pistol, modern armor and the ability to sense nearby unearthly beings. What does that mean? What’s “nearby”?

Well, this is at the very latest where you’ll fall on one side of the spectrum or another. This game very much focuses on one aspect of the ideology associated with the OSR, and that would be “rulings, not rules.” While the book later tells you that the referees task is to maintain consistency throughout campaigns, the matter of fact remains that quite a few of these components could have used some more detailed commentaries, at least some rudimentary guideline. In the example above, stating that the character goes first when encountering such targets sans rolling would not have taken up much real estate. Now, this is my personal opinion, but I have seen more than oen really rules-lite game that is CRISP and PRECISE in its rules, and this book, for the most part, fits into this category. This makes such instances even more glaring, at least for me as a person. But I’ll swallow this for now and revert to my reviewer stance.

Characters advance after completed expeditions – the game, as a default, knows basically 5 levels. On a survived expedition, you gain d6 hit points and roll d20 for each ability score. If you roll higher than the score, you increase it by 1. Kudos: There are quick and dirty rules for running businesses, organizations and the like; these fit on a single page.

The background packages also ties in with equipment: Coinage is pennies (p), shillings (s) and guilder (g); 100 pennies make a shilling, 100 shillings make a guilder. The equipment comes with sample prices, with aforementioned super-powers one exception of unpriced components. Similarly, the “penalties” for good rolls are not really priced. You may end up as mute, for example. This isn’t that bad (unless it annoys you while roleplaying), as there is no spellcasting in the traditional sense. Instead, PCs that rolled badly can get a so-called “Arcanum.”

Arcana are the main source of magic here – they basically are magic/super-science items that everyone covets, and chances are, you’ll have a few of them in your starting group. Arcana are grouped in three categories: 20 regular arcana are provided and allow you to seal doors, windows, etc. fold space between flat surfaces, speak with other beings, blind targets, etc. The ideas here are great, and same holds true for greater and legendary arcana, though these can only be gotten by adventuring. A page is devoted to sample ideas for them as well, and the GM-section does provide a few more ideas for arcana. It is a bit puzzling to me that the GM-section arcana differentiates between one-use/consumables and weapons, but does not employ the same clarification for the arcana presented. I adore the concepts here, though I don’t fully grasp why particularly unlucky characters can’t have more potent arcana. The background table, as cool as it is, does not always feel even it its reward-ratios.

If you want an example on how opaque an Arcanum can be, let me quote the Pressure Needle’s, a greater arcanum’s, entire text: “If the target takes critical damage today, they explode in a bloody mess.” Okay, so is this a weapon? Does it require that you see the target? Just know it? How often can it be used? If you don’t care about ANY of these questions, then you’ll absolutely adore the rules presented here. If you do, however, then this will prove to e somewhat frustrating for you. Needlessly so, I might add – establishing one set of brief global rules for arcana use could have preempted a lot of the confusion these may cause. And it’s not like the book doesn’t have the space. And, even if you prefer the purely narrative ruling component – the book does already have that! By using Willpower, you can coax arcana to do things that are not their usual function! (As an aside: I really love this wide-open means of using arcana in creative ways, and we even get an example; I’m not against the like – but it’d be better and cooler if the base functions, you know, where precise…)

The referee section is similarly quick, painless and to the point: We get some general advice on how to describe the game; that, if luck’s called for, you roll a d6, with a high result favoring players. We get simple, global rules for monsters, a couple of actually pretty cool sample creatures and a page of hazards. Creatures and hazards tie in what, to me, makes the main selling point of this game, namely the setting constantly implied through the rules and Arcanum-based operations: That would be the “Odd World”, where Bastion, the Bas-Lag-ish hub of mankind serves as the massive heart of civilization in a dangerous world.

14 pages of this book are devoted to the Oddpendium, basically a massive array of generators found in the back, which partially is intended to help you make Bastion come alive. It allows for quick name generation. Beyond that, the generators provide occupations and capabilities, manners exhibited and connections, things that may have befallen the NPCs, and more. Generators to establish the feeling of streets, whether there are means to access the honeycomb-like underground and sample businesses can be found. Oh, and there is a table that features “Insane Council Decisions”, including a public response chart. I really smiled when reading that “War with all other cities” is deemed just as insane as “outlawing same-sex marriage.” The Oddpendium also features two pages of tables for creature inspirations and two that let you determine what’s in the darkness beyond. This is btw. a good place to note that “darkvision”, while mentioned, isn’t codified at all in the book, so yeah – you’re probably getting a good picture of whether this is for you or not. From a layout point of view, the Oddpendium, while really helpful, does feel like page-bloat: Its tables only cover about 2/3rds of the page, leaving a lot of white space in an already slim booklet. Space that could have been filled with more entries per table. I strongly suggest implementing the citycrawl-tricks from Vornheim when running Bastion – the tables alone will not suffice to make it come alive, as information is a bit sparse. While I did enjoy the 3 pages of playing examples, I honestly would have preferred the space used otherwise.

The final 9 pages of this booklet I need to talk about would present basically an introductory adventure. These pages are actually placed before the Oddpendium in the booklet (makes sense, since you’ll be using the generators more often) and include a brief settlement write-up, as well as a mini-hexcrawl and a dungeon – oddly, the dungeon is depicted before the mini hexcrawl that leads to it. There are no player-friendly versions of the maps includes for VTT-play or the like. However, random encounter tables very much are included in the module, and the wilderness section even gets a weather table. Nice!

The following paragraphs will contain SPOILERS, as I’ll discuss briefly the adventure included in the book. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only referees around? Great! So yeah, this adventure is an exercise in extremely concise writing, as you can see in the wilderness of the Fallen Marsh:

“House (sinking into marsh, cleared out, broken crockery, furniture smashed and burned); Woodshed (sinking into marsh, tools, dead horse).” This is minimalist, yes, but it manages to actually evoke atmosphere, with critters barely taking up more room than that and coming with unique tricks. Balck coral’s cold and extinguishes flame; anemones attempt to create drones, bunkers hide critters that can instantly kill you with critical damage in a manner befitting of horror games… This is inspired. Same goes for the dungeon, which is an exploration of an Iron Coral that has recently grown. It includes new arcana, cool critters and hazards and makes, combined with the wilderness, for one of the best introductory modules I’ve read in quite a while. Big kudos, for this really left me craving for more in this weird world!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are either nigh perfect or barely good, depending on how you look at it; on a formal level, there is nothing to complain about, but whether or not you’ll enjoy the rules depends wholly on whether you can tolerate the unnecessary amount of rulings you’ll need to make. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard. The artworks in b/w throughout deserve special mention – they are weird, inspiring and neat indeed; the pdf has a full-color illustration on the inside of the front cover, which, alas, is just b/w in the PoD booklet. Big downside for the pdf: The electronic version has NO BOOKMARKS. In this day and age, this is a HUGE bummer and comfort detriment, particularly for a core book. I strongly suggest getting print here; for the electronic version, detract a whole star from my final verdict.

Reading the above and really analyzing this book made me more critical of Chris McDowall’s “Into the Odd” than I was going into this review. You see, the game succeeds at many of its tasks in admirable ways; it presents a fast-paced, deadly and fun game that is PERFECT for convention games, long train rides and similar occasions. It’s easy to grasp, fast to learn and precise in its presentation regarding its core functionality. Ultimately, the book, though, tries to have its cake and eat it, too. On the one hand, it’s really rules-lite and easy to grasp, but on the other hand, it offers a lot of exceptions and small tidbits that require some GM-experience and a continuously building amount of rulings that need to be kept consistent, when a single paragraph of super-basic global rules, when a single explanatory line, would have sufficed to exterminate this vagueness and made things more comfortable for the referee. This is NOT a question of rules lite vs. rules heavy, mind you – it’s just a matter of precision in the details, and this is where the system struggles. The precision only extends to the big picture, when it’s obvious that this pretty thin booklet could have easily fitted the required rules inside. Cut down on the blank space, on the needlessly extensive playing example…just to name two options. I am harping on this to the extent I am, because Into the Odd is so damn close to being a 5 star + seal of approval masterpiece, only to struggle in these unnecessary instances.

That being said, I still very much found myself liking this book, mainly due to the amazing and compelling implied setting that made me really wish there had been more space devoted to it, that there’d have been more detail for Bastion etc. This is truly atmospheric and the setting and rules generate this weird union that keeps this book compelling and a good reading experience.

So, how to rate this? Well, I won’t lie, there are few systems that have made me grit my teeth to this extent; Into the Odd is frankly genius in its simplicity when it does things right; and this extends to the rules, their presentation and the setting. However, it suddenly becomes inconsistent in its details, and this is, in a book of this quality, just frustrating to witness. Without adding much in the way of complexity, with but a few paragraphs, this could have been something truly special and my favorite rules lite game out there. As presented, it is a game that you’ll love if you don’t mind the inconsistencies in the details and requirements for quite a lot of rulings; for those who want precision, I can only tentatively recommend this, though the implicit setting and the module do make this worth checking out. My final verdict, much to my chagrin, can thus not exceed 4 stars. I sincerely hope that there’ll be a second version some day – the engine and setting deserve as much, deserve this added notch that will make them phenomenal.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Odd
Publisher: Lost Pages
by Kevin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/28/2017 17:21:40

This is the most inspiring RPG product I have ever purchased. I do not know how such terse, concise writing can infer and contain so much. If you want a taste of the style and content, visit Chris McDowell's blog at soogagames dot blogspot dot com (or google "Into the Odd Blog"). If you enjoy The Black Hack you will also probably enjoy Into the Odd.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Odd
Publisher: Lost Pages
by Christopher T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2015 22:00:51

This review is based on a single play as the GM. I bought the PDF, read it and immediately set up a game and ran it, which is probably the fastest purchase to play for an RPG I've ever had. The game rules are simple, but effective. Saves go against a stat, either Str, Dex or Will. Combat is rolling for damage only. This leaves lots of room for adjudication of odd situations on the fly without flipping through a book. Character creation is fast and interesting with only 4 stats and a matrix for equipment based on them. I'd love to see more matrices of stats to equipment as that is brilliant since you skip the horrible and long step where people buy all their crap during most of your first session for the ZZzzzz. We were off and playing within 15 minutes and the game runs at a good clip. I finished an entire adventure with about 6 encounters in just over 2 hours. Definitely a system to check out and try if you are interested in OSR as it's a boiled down D20 at it's core, and frankly, if you want to get into story stuff without all the annoying and confusing system crap in say Dungeon World or FATE, this will do it. Will make a very easy pick up game for nights drunk when you, as the hapless GM, get forced to run something as well!

Overall it is as if Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Numenera had a child.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Odd
Publisher: Lost Pages
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/28/2015 03:24:11
http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Ein Old-School-Rollenspiel auf 48 Seiten? Into the Odd bietet Material zum Gleich-Losspielen: Alle Regeln auf einer Seite, Zufalls- und Generierungstabellen, eine Spielwelt voller Absurditäten, ein Magiesystem basierend auf Gegenständen. Was es taugt, was es anders macht, wo es hakt – hier ist unsere Rezension zu diesem Indie-Kleinod.

OSR-Spotlight: Into the Odd

Bevor die Bücher einzelner Systeme ganze Schrankwände füllen konnten, fand man oft alles, was man zum Spielen brauchte, in einem oder mehreren dünnen Heftchen. Die Beschreibung der Spielwelt ließ das Meiste offen und es war den SL überlassen, den Faden weiterzuspinnen. Into the Odd ist es ein solches Spiel. Wie schlägt sich ein so liebevoll gestalteter Dinosaurierklon in der rollenspielerischen Postmoderne? Die Spielwelt

Die vorgegebene Spielwelt von Into the Odd konzentriert sich auf die Gegend um eine Metropolis namens Bastion. In dieser Stadt konzentriert sich zunehmend das zivilisierte Leben, während Ruinen, verlassene Städte und entvölkerte Landstriche die Umgebung darstellen. Bastion selbst bietet einen Mix aus Steampunk, Fantasy und rein bizarren Elementen.

Dem Spiel beigefügt sind eine Beispielsiedlung namens Hopesend Port, ein Hexcrawl der Umgebung und der erste Dungeon, die Iron Coral. Beschrieben ist also nicht die Umgebung von Bastion, sondern eine Gegend nördlich hiervon am Polarmeer. Das wahre Highlight sind dabei die ausgeflippten Zufallbegegnungstabellen und Hexbeschreibungen, die dem Setting sein Flair verleihen. So trifft man beständig auf Kulte und Merkwürdigkeiten rund um die Star Men, die Leute entführen und durch die Luft fliegen. Auch ansonsten verstecken sich hier eine Dosis abgedrehten Humors und einige Popkulturreferenzen.

Den stärksten Eindruck von der Welt gewinnt man durch die beigefügten Tabellen, auch im Anhang. Vieles ist nicht lange beschrieben, sondern gleich in verwertbare Tabellen verpackt worden. Insgesamt wird das implizite Versprechen des Buchtitels eingehalten: Diese Welt ist merkwürdig und abstrus. Sie will nicht zwingend Sinn ergeben, sondern unterhalten.

Die Regeln

Into the Odd verwendet Altbekanntes leicht anders, um ein besonders schlankes und meiner Meinung nach durchaus elegantes Regelwerk zu erschaffen:

Es gibt nur drei Attribute: Strength, Dexterity und Willpower. Jeder Waffe ist ein Schadenswürfel zugeordnet, von W4 bis W12. Jeder Charakter hat ein paar Trefferpunkte.

Tatsächlich gibt es aber nur zwei Proben: die Rettungs- und Schadenswürfe.

Rettungswürfe stellen das Grundgerüst des Spiels dar. Würfelt man mit einem W20 nicht mehr als den Attributswert, wurde die Probe bestanden. 1 ist immer ein Erfolg, 20 immer ein Fehlschlag. Die Bezeichnung „Saving Throw“ ist hierbei historisch zu sehen, denn ähnlich wie die Saving Rolls in Tunnels & Trolls sind diese Rettungswürfe allgemein einsetzbare Proben. Im Gegensatz zu D&D und dessen Varianten gibt es keine separaten Werte für Rettungswürfe – die drei Attribute genügen für alle Proben.

Ebenso im Gegensatz zu D&D gibt es keinen typischen W20-Angriffswurf. Man würfelt seinen Schadenswürfel (durch die Waffe vorgegeben), zieht den Rüstungsschutz (Armour) des Gegners ab und der Rest verbleibt als Schaden. Eine typische Rüstung reduziert den Schaden um 1 Punkt, bei Monstern liegt dieser Schutz höher. Die meisten Attacken gegen leicht gepanzerte Gegner bewirken also direkt Schaden. Wird der Angriff in irgendeiner Weise behindert, sinkt der Schaden auf W4. Wird er durch einen Umstand begünstigt, steigt er auf W12.

Jetzt kommt der Clou: Trefferpunkte fangen zwar Schaden ab, aber das Absinken auf 0 ist noch nicht der Tod oder die Ohnmacht. Stattdessen nimmt man Stärkeschaden. Man muss dann auf den niedrigeren Stärkewert einen Rettungswurf ablegen. Schlägt dieser fehl, hat man kritischen Schaden erlitten. Fällt der Stärkewert auf 0, ist man tot. Das System simuliert also mit einfachsten Mitteln zunehmenden Wundschaden.

Eine kurze Rast von ein paar Minuten stellt alle Trefferpunkte wieder her, eine lange Rast von einer Woche alle verlorenen Attributspunkte. Die Trefferpunkte sind somit ein kleines Polster an Sicherheit, das den Charakter vor Schlimmerem schützt. Mit den Attributspunkten muss man hingegen gut haushalten, da sonst auch die lebensrettenden Proben scheitern.

Ansonsten gilt: Eine Runde (Turn) erlaubt eine Aktion. Deren Ausgang kann über die oben genannten Würfe abgewickelt werden.

Arcana

Spart sich Into the Odd schon den W20-Angriffswurf, so verlässt es die Welt der d20-Spiele endgültig mit seinem gegenstandsbasierten Magiesystem. Das Spiel dreht sich um die Suche nach besonders mächtigen magisch-technologischen Artefakten, den Arcana. Man kann ein Arcanum je nach seiner Beschreibung direkt anwenden, oder versuchen, es mit einem Willpower-Save zu einer ungewöhnlichen Anwendung heranzuziehen.

Das Spiel kommt hierbei mit drei Seiten Beispiel-Arcana von dreierlei Stufen an Mächtigkeit. Diese reichen von einer Art Portal-Gun (Space Folder) bis zur Wetterkontrollmaschine (Weather Altar). Viele Effekte sind vage beschrieben und erlauben es den Spielern, kreative Einsatzmöglichkeiten zu finden. Nicht alle sind durch Spielwerte definiert.

[box]“PHASE KEY: Phase through a wall or floor with any objects you are carrying.“

„GAVEL OF THE UNBREAKABLE SEAL: One door, window, etc. is sealed until you open it.“

„INFERNO DEVICE: Cause a source of fire to explode, causing D10 Damage to all within 20FT.“

„SPIRIT CHAIN: Swap bodies with another that you are touching. They can resist with a WIL SAVE. Retain WIL scores only.“[/box]

Bereits im Einstiegsabenteuer fand der Hitzestrahl (Heat Ray) reichlich Anwendung. Sobald Arcana im Spiel sind, erweitern sich die Handlungsmöglichkeiten der Spieler stark.

Der Rest

Das war es im Großen und Ganzen bereits mit den Regeln – interessant wird das Spiel durch die Ausrüstungsliste, die Vielzahl der Arkana und die ebenso merkwürdigen wie gefährlichen Kräfte der Monster.

Eine Besonderheit sticht noch hervor: Es gibt Regeln für das Spiel mit großen Gruppen, den Companies. Wie rekrutiert man, wie kämpft man untereinander, was kann man sich Schönes für sein neues Miniimperium kaufen – all das ist beschrieben. Wer also in seiner Sandkiste selbst zum Gestalter werden will, kann das über diesen Mechanismus tun und zum Krieg gegen ganze Kultisten-Organisationen ausziehen. Das Ganze ist zu kurz, um als voll ausgearbeitet zu gelten, aber man kann damit arbeiten. Charaktererschaffung

Ein normaler SC wird mit 3W6 für die Attribute erwürfelt. Hierbei darf man Werte gegeneinander austauschen. Zusätzlich erhält man 1W6 Trefferpunkte. Man ermittelt dann das höchste Attribut. Die Ausrüstung bestimmt sich aus einer Tabelle. Man sucht sich die Zeile mit dem passenden höchsten Attributwert und die Spalte mit den eigenen Trefferpunkten, schon kennt man sein Startequipment. Besonders niedrige Werte werden in der Tabelle eher durch die Ausrüstung und Sonderfertigkeiten ausgeglichen, besonders hohe durch leichte Nachteile.

Zusätzlich gibt es noch zwei weitere Arten an SC: Companions werden wie normale SC ausgewürfelt, haben aber nur ein 1 Trefferpunkt und ein Schwert. Damit kann eine Gruppe vergrößert werden, die nur wenige Spieler hat. Hirelings sind da je nach Situation schon besser, wollen aber Geld für ihre Dienste sehen.

Zu guter Letzt der Stufenanstieg: Pro erreichter Stufe erhält man W6 zusätzliche Trefferpunkte und darf für jedes Attribut mit W20 würfeln. Übertrifft man den Attributwert, steigt er permanent um 1 Punkt. Das Erreichen neuer Stufen bestimmt sich darüber, wie viele Expeditionen man bereits überlebt hat. Auf späteren Stufen bildet man zusätzlich einen Lehrling aus.

Auch hier ist das System sehr leichtgewichtig, reicht aber völlig aus.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielleitersicht

Das Spiel ist sehr einfach abzuwickeln. Man beschreibt, beantwortet Fragen, weist auf Konsequenzen einer Entscheidung hin und verlangt Proben. Es sind kaum Regeln zu verwalten, daher verschiebt sich der Fokus klar auf das Problemlösen. Der kurze Abschnitt für das Spielleiten ist völlig hinreichend und angenehm zu lesen.

Man kann sich der vielen Tabellen im Buch bedienen, ebenso gibt es einen vorgefertigten Einstieg sowie einen Hexcrawl. Danach bleibt es einem aber weitestgehend selbst überlassen, eine volle Sandbox hinzustellen. Man sollte sich dringend Drittmaterial zum Thema suchen. Der Spaß im Spiel entsteht vorrangig durch Absonderlichkeiten (Tricks), Fallen und ungewöhnliche Schätze. Gerade durch die Arcana-Liste erhält man hier eine entscheidende Hilfe, ansonsten wird man sich viel ausdenken oder aus Modulen von Old-School-Spielen zusammenklauen müssen.

Der Fokus liegt aber nicht so sehr auf dem Monsterverkloppen, sondern auf der Schatzsuche, der geschickten Spielanlage. Es gibt keine echte Belohnung für das Monstererschlagen, ja, nicht mal eine Motivation hierfür, da sie eigentlich nur im Weg sind. Daher muss der Fokus beim Abenteuerdesign auch darauf liegen, das Rätselhafte zu generieren.

Das ganze Spiel scheint auf das Generieren einer Sandbox ausgelegt zu sein, eine wirklich vollständige Anleitung oder Unterstützung dies zu tun fehlt jedoch – keine Checkliste, keine Generatoren, keine ungefähre Beschreibung des Prozesses. (Wer sich hier alleingelassen fühlt, sollte vielleicht mal bei Kevin Crawfords Sine Nomine Games reinschauen.)

Es gibt einen Stall Beispielmonster. Hierbei fällt besonders positiv auf, dass jeder Kreatur im Spiel eine Motivation (Drive) beigegeben ist. Diese ist in nur einem Satz beschrieben, erleichtert aber das Ausspielen ungemein. Schätze und die Generierung neuer Arcana haben ein eigenes Kapitel. Spielbarkeit aus Spielersicht

Es gibt hier nicht viel zu sagen: Das Wichtigste kommt nicht vom eigenen Charakterbogen, sondern ist das Interagieren mit dem SL. Verzögerungen und Lärm werden zumeist mit Zufallsbegegnungen bestraft. Eine Mischung aus Vorsicht und Eile ist geboten, und man muss selbst entscheiden, wann sich ein Raubzug gelohnt hat, und wann die Verluste zu groß werden.

OSR-typisch sind Figuren schnell ausgewürfelt, und mit etwas Pech fast genauso schnell verstorben.

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis

Into the Odd ist ein vollständiges Spiel, mit dem man gleich losspielen kann. Für ein Werk unter 100 Seiten ist der Preis jedenfalls nicht untypisch. Man darf halt kein durchdesigntes Produkt erwarten, das wäre bei einem Indie auch zu viel verlangt.

Spielbericht

Bei Into the Odd dachte ich mir, dass sich dem Spiel am einfachsten auf den Zahn fühlen lässt, indem man es spielt. Also haben wir einen abwaschbaren Bodenplan ausgepackt und das beigefügte Beispielabenteuer The Iron Coral gespielt.

Da das nicht unser erster Ausflug in die Old-School-Ecke war, gingen Generierung und Einstieg flott von der Hand. Auch die Abwicklung der Regeln war ohne echte Lernkurve zu bewältigen, es geht ja immer nur ums Beschreiben, das Stellen gezielter Fragen und das Abwickeln der Würfe. Daher spielte es sich auch nicht anders, als wenn wir wieder Basic/Expert D&D gespielt hätten, nur mit noch weniger Regeln (und ohne Bedarf für Hausregeln). So weit, so gut.

Der Text am Einband des Buches verspricht Folgendes: „This is a fast, simple game, to challenge your wits rather than your understanding of complex rules.“ Das ist für das Buch selbst durchwegs richtig, nicht aber für das Einstiegsabenteuer! Zum größten Teil ist The Iron Coral ein nicht besonders kreativer Dungeon. Das steht leider völlig im Widerspruch zum dreiseitigen Spielbeispiel. Dort geht’s in einem einzigen, clever designten Raum völlig ab!

Nichts von dieser Genialität findet sich im Beispielabenteuer: Herausforderungen beschränken sich auf einige, wenige Räume. Für ein Old-School-Abenteuer ist es zwar okay, wenn es keine größeren, raumübergreifenden Zusammenhänge gibt, aber hier ist einfach zu wenig los. Mehrere Räume sind lediglich zur Spielerverwirrung da und kosten nur Zeit. Die Schatzkammern kann man erst betreten, wenn man mit den Türen das Richtige anstellt. Leider gibt es keinen echten Zusammenhang zwischen dem, was die Tür öffnet und irgendeiner Art von Hinweis. Die Spieler haben denn auch einfach eine der beiden Türen mit Hilfe eines Arcanums demoliert. Generell waren die meisten Räume schlicht uninteressant und zogen das Ganze nur in die Länge, wodurch das Abenteuer auch mehr Zufallsbegegnungen generierte.

Auch bei der Spielvorbereitung hatte ich gemischte Gefühle. Einerseits mag ich kurze, knackige Beschreibungen, damit ich schnell vorbereiten kann. Das hier dargebotene Format bietet für den Flavortext aber nur Schlagworte. Das war dann doch sehr karg. Ich habe denn auch zweimal über die wortkarge Beschreibung aller Räume drübergelesen, bis ich gemerkt habe, dass hier wirklich nicht mehr geboten ist. In Summe hat mich so meine Erwartungshaltung beim Lesen mehr Zeit gekostet, als ich benötigt hätte, wenn der Dungeon etwas stärker ausformuliert gewesen wäre.

Es verblieb der Eindruck, dass das Spiel selbst für Old-School-Abenteuer völlig ausreichend ist, und dass der Blick schnell von den Regeln hin zum Problemlösen geht. Das ist gut, das ist richtig, das macht mir Spaß. Als wuchtigen Einstieg hätte ich mir nur einen smarteren Dungeon gewünscht, wo die Spieler hinterher nach mehr verlangen. Als jemand, der gerne Dungeon Crawl Classics leitet, bin ich vielleicht inzwischen beim Dungeondesign etwas verwöhnt. In Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry oder den Modulen von Goodman Games haben Spieler mit Beobachtungs- und Kombinationsgabe immer etwas zu entdecken, und das hätte ich mir hier auch gewünscht. Erscheinungsbild

Im Großen und Ganzen ist das Buch hinreichend gut gestaltet. Die Tabellen sind gut lesbar, der Schriftsatz hat einen Hauch von Nostalgie, zumal auch Großschrift anstatt Fettdruck verwendet wird. Es gibt wenige Illustrationen, die meisten in Schwarz-Weiß oder Grautönen. Bei einigen fragt man sich, was abgebildet sein soll, aber das Buch macht einen guten, wenn auch einfachen Eindruck.

Die Beschreibungen für den enthaltenen Dungeon und den umgebenden Hexcrawl sind eher unübersichtlich und nicht wirklich ansehnlich formatiert. Zum Beispiel wurde eine Minidungeon-Beschreibung in den ansonsten recht kurz gehaltenen Hexcrawl hineingepfercht. Aber ganz ehrlich: Ich habe im OSR-Umfeld, gerade in Bezug auf Wildnisbeschreibungen, schon Schlimmeres gesehen.

Bonus/Downloadcontent

Wer nach mehr Spielmaterial sucht, sollte sich dieses Oddpendium ansehen.

Fazit

Into the Odd ist ein starker Indie mit einem hohen Nostalgiefaktor. Das Spiel beweist auch immer wieder Humor. Man kann damit schnell losspielen und Spaß haben. Es bietet dennoch das Potenzial, eine Gruppe für Wochen oder Monate zu unterhalten.

Während das Buch vieles bietet, bleibt es am SL hängen, die Gruppe auf Dauer mit Kniffeleien zu bespaßen. Zwar gibt es ein paar Tabellen, um merkwürdige Orte, Kreaturen und Gefahren zu generieren. Aber schon das Einstiegsabenteuer ist nicht besonders prickelnd und die Spieler werden schnell nach mehr verlangen. Die etwas chaotische Natur der Arcana erweitert die Möglichkeiten der Spieler stetig, so dass auf Dauer Herausforderungen nicht leicht zu planen sind.

Wer Into the Odd auf Dauer viel abgewinnen will, sollte sich mit Büchern wie Grimtooth's Traps oder Tricks, Empty Rooms & Basic Trap Design bewaffnen, um die Spieler weiterhin zu fordern.

Insgesamt gefällt mir Into the Odd gut, ich werde es wieder spielen, und man kann damit ohne großen Aufwand jederzeit einen Oneshot anbieten. Es bietet Old-School-Spiel in Reinkultur und funktioniert als Spiel trotz und gerade aufgrund seiner Einfachheit hervorragend.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Odd
Publisher: Lost Pages
by Harald W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/06/2015 14:51:48

This 48 pager is the closest to a steampunk game I would think captures the idea of rottenness and oppression of industrialization without demonizing technology itself — all the bad things come from what people do and want, and not the implements they use.

The first half or so of the book is rules: Character generation and equipment (2 pages), another page of rules for saves (all kinds of checks), a tiny but tight combat system, half a page about advancement, one page about companies and war, and three pages of sample arcana, weird magical or magitechnical or technomagical items that people hunt after; an example for play that conveys the style and themes that the game supports, and a couple pages devoted to the game master, including general advice, sample monsters, traps and hazards. The official world description fills one page, but we get 10 pages of a sample location, a region, and a small settlement which illustrate more of what the game is about — matter-of-factly, without being preachy.

The last third of the book is filled by the aptly-named Oddpendium, a collection of tables that allow you to quickly generate Into-the-Odd content but also serves as a condensed way to show more setting details, without getting overly verbose.

In terms of Old-School games, I consider Into The Odd somewhat of an outlier as it's pretty much setting infused with rules. I'd have a hard time saying what I'd use from this book in other games —no wait, that's a lie: The arcana are pretty nice and could spruce up about any game, unless you shy away from ray guns or black hole generators or portal guns. The rules, sparse as they are, seem to be a tight fit for the kind of setting or at least the kind of adventures the setting of Into The Odd seems to beget.

I could kind-of see Into The Odd to be used as an alternate future setting/game on top of your average fantasy game. It's close enough to be a parallel universe that you could get to through any of the many portals of the Kefitzah Haderech (also a Lost Pages product), because it's weird enough to find something lost from another world, or to hide in there because you probably won't stick out much.

Also, Into The Odd has good ongoing support by Chris on his blog (http://soogagames.blogspot.co.uk/)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Odd
Publisher: Lost Pages
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/06/2015 14:23:17
http://scriptogr.am/sbr/post/odd

What do you need to know?

Into the Odd is the newest creation of Chris McDowall. This is the new, premium version which was released on Nov 27th 2014 with a fresh layout, revised and expanded rules and new artwork. The PDF costs USD $7.99 (~ 6,42 €) and the Print+PDF bundle USD $14.99 (~ 12,04 €) + shipping. The free (first) version of the game is available at http://soogagames.blogspot.com.

Chris has already written some other sweet games. I am a fan of A Wanderer's Romance as it has several things that I enjoy: free, rules-lite, full of action and Wuxia.

I read the first version of Into the Odd some time ago but dismissed it at that time because I had no interest in old school games at that time.

When Chris posted about his progress on the second version of ItO at Google+ I took another look at the game. Furthermore, some people I know from G+ and whose expertise I value (Jürgen Meyer and David Reichgeld) playtested the game. To top it off, Paolo Greco, the man behind Lost Pages and AFG Adventure Fantasy Game, is the publisher of ItO.

Please bear in mind that I haven't played the game. These are my impressions from reading the PDF. So, what exactly is Into the Odd?

Chris McDowall’s Into the Odd contains everything you need to create a character and explore an industrial world of cosmic meddlers and horrific hazards. This is a fast, simple game, to challenge your wits rather than your understanding of complex rules. http://tsojcanth.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/new-release-into-the-odd-by-chris-mcdowall/

ItO is a rules-lite old school game with its own mechanics and a weird and horror-influenced setting. It is not a retro-clone of one of the D&D-variants but falls into the OSR vein.

Look

The print is not out yet so I'm concentrating on the electronic version. The game is 48 pages + cover images. It uses a classic two-column style with black & white illustrations and some tables. The font is charmingly old-school. Tables are nicely formatted. The book is easy on the eyes. All in all, a clean and good-looking layout job. The illustrations are weird and fit the theme. I'm glad that the author decided to order new artwork instead of using freely available Creative Commons stuff.

Content

Character Creation

Character Creation fits on two pages. It is reminiscent of D&D but streamlined. Characters have three Ability Scores: Strength, Dexterity and Willpower. You roll 3d6 for each stat but you may swap any two of your results. A new character has 1d6 Hitpoints

You can use companions if the player group is small.

A beginner char gets equipment via a randomly rolled Starter Pack. No two characters should have the same Starter Pack. Examples include:

Longaxe (d8), Ferret, Fire Oil

or

Musket (d8), Mallet, Marbles, Fancy Hat, Arcanum

Arcanum? Well, that's the magic system of ItO., I'll come back to it later. The equipment table consits of a mix of useful items and funny things. I like the inherent humor.

To summarize, character creation is quick and simple and gives off an old-school vibe with rolling 3d6 and getting random equipment. I approve.

Game Rules

The game rules fit on six pages and include the general How-to-play-rules, Advancement, Companies and War and rule for the magic system, Arcana.

Basic Game Rules

The basic game rules are really simple and somehow familiar if you know D&D. One of the key components is the old-school Saving Throw. It is paired with the Ability Scores: take a d20 and roll equal or under. The Referee Chapter goes into detail on how to use them. The rules for Attack and Damage are particularly interesting. If you attack you don't need to roll to see if you hit your target - no, you automatically deal damage. This is pretty elegant and also means that combat is quite deadly. As your Hitpoints (HP) will dwindle quickly you might ask yourself what happens if you fall down to 0 HP. Remaining damage is substracted from your STR score. There are also rules for avoiding Critical Damage and rules for recovering via Short Rest and Long Rest. If the STR score is down to zero, the character dies.

How to use Arcana? The rules for the magic system are also straightforward and fast. If you utilize your power in a normal way you just use it without risk. However, if you want to use it in an unusual manner you will need to pass a WIL Save. I like how the magic system is implemented. Using Arcana is a matter of just saying so without rolling dice except if you want to use it in a risky way. And who won't?

To put it in a nutshell: The game rules are old-school flavored, very easy to learn, fast and elegant. Combat is dangerous and using Arcana is approriately risky if you want to use it creatively. I like the system a lot.

Advancement

Advancement hinges on surviving expeditions where you return with some treasure, a good story or a secret. Each time you level up you get 1d6 HP and your stats might increase. The rules for this are the same/similar as in other old-school games: roll a d20 and if your roll is higher that the Ability Score it increases by 1. Interestingly, character advancement doesn't mechanically rely on gaining coins or beating monsters. Primarily, you need to survive the expedition and return with something to show for. This is a fascinating way at looking at the XP requirements of classic roleplaying games.

Companies & War

The rules for Companies & War cover rules for groups and organisations and for warfare. A company can be a group of mercenary soldiers but also a business enterprise. The war rules cover how units are handled, mass combat, sieges and ships in broad strokes.

Arcana

Next is three pages full of magic powers. These are unique, not Vancian and weird. Powers are divided into three categories:

  1. Powers You Cannot Understand
  2. Powers You Can Barely Control
  3. Powers You Shouldn't Control

A lot of the magic of ItO (see what I did here?) lies in this chapter as the powers convey the strange world ItO is embedded in. Characters who have Arcana in their Starter Package roll a d20 to see what they get from the first list, for instance Spider Skin (Spiderman) or Tyrant's Rod (target must drop unless they pass a WIL save).

The range of powers is diverse. Powers allow you to do some kind of shapeshifting, have Power Armor, read the minds of others or boil the blood of your enemies and so forth.

Running the Game

Preceding this chapter is a gameplay example. Nice! The part of the book for the Referee gives basic advice, help on understanding Ability Scores and Saving Throws etc. The basic advice is solid but short.

The book also covers Encounters and Monsters. There is no bestiary per se but some examples on how to implement the advice on creating monsters. The examples are very evocative. Nonetheless, I think it's mostly winging it as the guidelines are a bit vague.

Treasure is either money in the silver standard or the discovery of Arcana. That's also standard way to get new spells.

Another page is dedicated to the use of Traps and other Hazards.

My take on this: There is some good information here. However, being a rules-lite game the chapters are concise and don't offer a lot of detail. ItO "suffers" from the same fate as other lightweight games in this regard: it gets the GM started but doesn't offer a lot of material to go further.

The Odd World

This is the setting blurb for Into the Odd. Bastion is a sprawling moloch of a city and the hub of mankind. It is the starting point for expeditions into the strange world beyond this metropolis. The technology level of Bastion is maybe 18th century onwards (?) as the industrial revolution is in full swing but people still use swords and similar melee weapons to beat down the mobs in the city. The book contains a sample expedition,The Iron Coral. Also included is another town, Hopesend Port and a hexmap of the surrounding area.

The Oddpendium

The Oddpendium is a collection of tables to generate ideas: names for NPCs, the quickest route across town, Bastion's greatest businesses, weird creature inspiration, what's beyond the darkness and other stuff.

Although the Oddpendium is a nice idea, I'm a bit disappointed by its lack of versatility. Some of it is clearly aimed at Bastion and might be of some use but some tables don't make much sense to me. For instance, "Insane Council Decisions": although it clearly adds flavor to the world it doesn't give me something hands-on to work with but merely some inspiration.

Conclusion

Into the Odd set out to be a complete and fast rules-lite game with an emphasis on exploration of an eldritch and horrific world. While it definitely achieves the mechanical part and the exploration part one can argue about its completeness. The game is a short read and absolutely sufficient for the player. Yet it isn't exhaustive concerning game master material, the game world and its denizens. Clearly the author intended the GM to fill out the gaps herself.

What I like: The game rules are cleverly designed and unobtrusive so that the expedition into the Weird can get started right away. Combat is deadly and magic (Arcana) is appropriately aberrant. I especially find the spell lists inspiring and I'm happy to see something different than Vancian magic. The game is old-school flavored but doesn't shy away from making intelligent changes in comparison to classic games. Overall, the rules are conveyed in a friendly tone and presented in a nice looking package.

What I would've like to see: Although I can see the appeal of a broad-strokes approach it leaves me hanging as a GM. Personally I like to have options available: a bestiary, more background material, a more versatile Oddpendium. Granted, other people at G+ have a different opinion on this so take this however you want.

I am very happy about the buy and I am eagerly awaiting the print version.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Displaying 1 to 6 (of 6 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
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